Picking The Right 'Brushes' For Perfect Painting Results

You can buy the most expensive paints available, have the colors mixed accurately, prepare the surfaces perfectly and still end up with a disappointing painted surface because you used the wrong brushes or rollers to apply the paint.

While proper paints and preparation are important, a real secret to a good paint job is the paintbrush.

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all brush. You need some variety. Good paint brushes have bristles that are firmly attached to a metal holder, called the ferrule. The more expensive the brush, the more bristles it has and the more tenaciously they will stay in place.

Paintbrush Varieties

Paintbrushes come in two major varieties and each has a place in your toolbox:

Natural - fiber bristle brushes are made from animal hair. The most common is hog hair, which is labeled 'China bristle.' These are used for oil paint and solvent-thinned finishes only, since water-based paints will absorb into the bristles and leave them limp and mop like.

Synthetic - fiber bristles are the choice for latex paint and water-based finishes. These contain fibers made of nylon or polyester. Generally, they are less expensive than natural fibers. The fibers are hollow, which is why after cleaning they continue to leak paint-tinged liquid.

Brush Shapes and Types

Some brushes contain blends of both natural and synthetic fibers and those can be used with any type of paint. You should own at least one of each of the three basic shapes of brushes:

Flat brushes have bristles that are perpendicular to the ferrule. For painting exterior siding or decks, a 4-inch plat brush with either natural or synthetic bristles is the applicator to use. It covers large areas quickly, yet still is light enough to maneuver easily.

Trim brushes are cut at an angle that makes it possible to paint crisp lines on trim, molding and windows and glass doors. They range in width between one and two inches. Chisel trim brushes are angles on both sides for extra precision.

Stain brushes have flat bristles that are shorter and wider than a normal flat brush. This gives them less of a tendency to drip, which is ideal for using with stains.

Here's a good tip for you... When it comes to paint brushes, buy the best you can, keep them clean when you're finished using them and they'll stay with you for years.

Rolling That Wall

If you are painting a wall, a roller works much better than a paintbrush. Painting walls or ceilings with a roller is faster and leaves a smooth matte finish in its wake rather than a bunch of brush strokes. Rollers come in two styles based on their cores:

Cardboard core rollers are less expensive. They begin to compress and give way when dampened from the paint. The more you roll, the more the fibers glued to the core tend to pull out and stick to the wall.

Hard core rollers are more expensive, but also more durable and can be cleaned and reused, so the added cost really balances out in the long run.

Lastly, I recommend buying a sturdy metal rolling pan. The low-cost plastic pans make it seem appealing, but when you try to pick one up filled with paint it invariable will bend, spilling paint.

Credit: Lou Manfredini's Tips From the Tool Box, Ace Hardware

Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and safety of this information. Neither Westlake nor any contributor can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.

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